Jamie Arniel was nearly the goat of the game when he took an ill-advised tripping penalty in the first minute of overtime, just as the Providence Bruins were initiating a potential end-to-end onslaught, no less.
But after his teammates bailed him out, literally and figuratively, Arniel broke the ice in the ensuing shootout. His second-round roofer combined with Zach Hamill’s homeward-bound lace around Portland Pirates goaltender Justin Pogge’s left boot and Providence stopper Anton Khudobin’s 4-for-5 performance stamped a 3-2 triumph before 4,368 congregants at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
To start, Providence decisively outshot and out-disciplined Portland with a 12-1 edge in the shooting gallery and three unanswered power plays within the first 20 minutes. But the Bruins only barely outscored the Pirates with strikes by Andrew Bodnarchuk and Tyler Randell sandwiching Matt Watkins’ equalizer on Portland’s only stab of the period.
Portland blueliner Michael Stone’s point-shot was a subtle, yet impactful killer of brittle Bruins leads. After Watkins deflected his bid home for a 1-1 draw at 11:36 of the first, Stone dropped a rebound on Khudobin’s porch. Pirates’ winger Ryan Duncan was there to lasso and bury the rebound by for a power-play conversion at 5:03 of the middle frame.
With the assists on Bodnarchuk’s icebreaking strike, Craig Cunningham and Kirk MacDonald both cultivated their first points of the 2011-12 campaign.
Randell also got productively involved. In addition to his first-period strike, the rookie winger parked himself in front of the Portland cage in the final minute of the second period for a can’t-hurt effort to extract David Warsofsky’s rebound. Pogge’s alert pouncing denied Randell a second opportunity to restore the Providence lead and potentially deprive the Pirates of a point.
Khudobin was his vintage self during the overtime penalty kill, repelling all four of Portland’s power-play shots. Earlier, when Max Sauve and Colby Cohen combined to create a 5-on-3 segment, the Bruins confined the Pirates to two stabs just as Cohen’s sentence was expiring.
The only thing that went wrong for the hosts in the opening frame was three missed opportunities to augment their lead. The P-Bruins spilled all three of their unanswered power plays, two of which were awarded within two minutes of a goal or fewer.
The line of Hamill, Sauve and Trent Whitfield had an impossible time sustaining a threat on Portland property as multiple passes failed to connect or were picked off. On top of that, they were all on the ice for the Pirates first goal.
Whitfield finished with a minus-1 rating (as did his linemates) along with no shots on goal. The captain and two-time defending team MVP remains pointless through five games on the year.
Up to this point in the season, only rookie defenseman Marc Cantin shares the distinction of a barren scoring log after five games-played. On Sunday, only Lane MacDermid and Zach McKelvie joined Whitfield in failing to register a shot.
Pogge made his season debut between the pipes for Portland and remains technically undefeated in five career confrontations with the P-Bruins at 3-0-2. He is 2-0-2 all-time in visits to The Dunk.
Duncan was the only of five Pirates to beat Khudobin in the shootout. His bar-down conversion in the top of the fourth round drew a brief 1-1 knot, which Hamill promptly and permanently busted.
Stone, Mathieu Beaudoin and Nathan Oystrick led all participating skaters with four shots on goal in the first 65 minutes of action.
Kyle Chipchura and Tyler Eckford garnered the secondary assist on Watkins’ and Duncan’s goals, respectively.
Defenseman Maxim Goncharov was liable for three consecutive Pirates’ infractions. He was flagged for hooking at 6:54 of the first, tripping at 15:25 of the same stanza and high-sticking at 14:03 of the middle frame.
Providence rookies Kevan Miller and Carter Camper each earned their second points of the season by assisting on Randell’s goal.
Defenseman Ryan Button was scratched from all three P-Bruins games over the weekend. Forwards Stefan Chaput and Calle Ridderwall likewise sat out of Sunday’s affair.